"We would have a better chance of surviving the Sun on a moon of Jupiter." Surviving the Sun's death: a new planet proves it.
Five billion years is a long time, but assuming humans don't destroy it first, that's when the Earth will disappear forever. In fact, the Sun follows the life cycle of every star and, before dying in a cold and very dense white dwarf, will increase in size until it incinerates the nearest planets of the solar system, including the common home of mankind.
What will happen instead to space bodies "at a safe distance", like Jupiter, for example, or Saturn? That's less clear. Of course, none of us will be there to find out, but a look what happened with other systems could help us speculate on the future of our own.
How Jupiter might survive the Sun's destruction
"While there is plenty of evidence of rocky planetary debris orbiting white dwarfs, we have very little data from intact planets," said Joshua Blackman of the University of Tasmania, lead author of a study that appeared in October in the journal Nature. In the publication, astronomers examine a Jupiter-like planet 6500 light-years from Earth that survived the collapse of its own star.
"It is likely," Blackman continued, "that the fate of our solar system will be similar to MOA-2010-BLG-477Lb," that's the name of the celestial object. "The Sun will become a white dwarf, the inner planets will be swallowed up, and planets with larger orbits such as Jupiter and Saturn will survive."
Is life possible on planets near a dead star?"
Now for the most intriguing part: in principle, not only is it possible for life to survive, on planets that, in turn, have survived the death of the nearby star. According to Lisa Kaltenegger, director of the Carl Sagan Institute at Cornell University, the possibility of life regenerating on the planet that escaped catastrophe cannot even be ignored. "If planets can survive the death of their stars, can life do so too?" wondered Kaltenegger.
"If humanity were somehow still around in five billion years," Blackman further argues, "we would probably have a better chance of surviving the Sun's red giant phase on a moon of Jupiter than on Earth.
To complete the picture of space apocalypses (which to survive) here's what a supernova is, the stellar explosion.